Daniel Messervy

From Jerripedia
Jump to: navigation, search

This article by A C Saunders was first published in the 1937 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

Societe logo.jpg

The poorer people of Jersey, at the beginning of the 18th century were beginning to realise that they should have some say in the affairs of the Island. Up to the beginning of the 17th century they were nothing better than serfs, and a writer described them as sullen and suspicious.

But during the 17th century many things had happened. They had been governed by Royalists and Parliamentarians; they had seen the Island the place of refuge not only of some of the greatest nobles of the land but also of the Royal Princes; their sailors had sought adventure far afield and the trade to Newfoundland was developing, and as the young men returned to Jersey they brought back tales of what they had seen elsewhere and aroused a discontent on the condition of affairs in the Island. Then finally they saw the Huguenots arriving in the Island with their tales of the terrible times they had passed through after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

Intelligence aroused

All these circumstances aroused the intelligence of those who could think, and made them determined to safeguard the few privileges which had been left to them by the petty Seigneurs of the Island. Therefore the condition of affairs was very different at the beginning at the 18th century from what they were a century previous.

In continuation of my series of "notable Jerseymen" among whom I have included Admiral Philip de Carteret, Moses Corbet, Charles Robin, and, in my latest book, now with the printers, Sir George Carteret, Baronet, we must not omit the claims of Daniel Messervy of Mont-au-Pretre, the grandson of one of the co-heiresses of St Ouen's Manor, De La Riviere de Carteret. His father, Daniel Messervy, was born in 1689 and, dying in 1729, was buried in St Helier's Church. Daniel, the subject of this paper was born in 1721, and, after having been a Jurat from 1754 to 1770, died in 1775 at the early age of 54.

He kept a Journal during the troublous times, 1769-1772, when those governing the Island had incurred the greatest unpopularity in their dealing with the exportation of corn and, in the reading of the diary, one must come to the conclusion that our friend Daniel had a very anxious time as he was one of the Jurats of the Royal Court but, in 1770, owing to the state of his health, he found a way out of his difficulties by resigning his Juratship. He was a great friend of the Lempriere family.

Tumult over currency

At the time that Daniel Messervy was at school Jersey was in a state of tumult owing to the actions of the Royal Court with regard to the money question in the Island. Earlier we find that by an Act of the States of 3 October 1701 it was forbidden to take out of the Island gold, silver or other coin over 30 livres tournois, on pain of confiscation, and yet in 1720 very little gold or silver was to be found in the Island.

Evidently the law of 1701 had been ignored and Jerseymen had taken advantage of the purchasing value of money in acquiring goods from other countries. Copper money in liards and sous was plentiful and, therefore, on 9 April 1720 the States forbade the exportation of copper money above the amount of 30 livres. Work was going on in our harbour and funds were required to continue the work, but the States had no money in hand and it therefore occurred to our wise legislators that they might issue paper money to the extent of 50,000 livres, and on 21 December 1725 they issued a notice that the only metallic currency in circulation was liards and deniers.

The matter was submitted to the Privy Council and in the meantime great dissatisfaction was aroused in the Island against the members of the Royal Court who apparently were trying to muddle their way through. The Order in Council of 22 May 1729 approved of the regulated valuation of French silver coins and rated the crown piece at 71 sols, the shilling at 16 sols and the sixpence at 7 sols, the French Liard at two deniers each and the English farthing at three and a half deniers.

Before this the sol was equal to four liards, but under the new regulations its value was raised to six liards. Therefore, in the payment of any debt, after an interval of six months from the date of the Order, the amount to be paid was raised by 50 per cent. People became very excited at what they considered a very unjust regulation and were determined to use every effort to upset it and the Jurats, becoming frightened, realized that they had made a very grave mistake and therefore sent delegates to the Privy Council to ask them to cancel their order.

Privy Council rejects revocation

The lords of the Council listened to the delegates but refused to comply with the request. Upon this news reaching the Island, meetings were held in all the parishes denouncing the action of the Jurats and they, fearing for their lives, fled with their Lieut-Bailiff Philip Le Geyt, Attorney-General Le Hardy, Receiver-General William Dumaresq and Dean Francis Payn to Elizabeth Castle. Later they appeared before the Privy Council and declared that they had had to escape from the Island otherwise they would have been murdered by the people.

In the meantime, those Jurats who had remained in the Island were trying to appease the people by passing Acts according to the demands of the rioters, which Acts, when sent for the approval of the Privy Council, were considered by the Lordships as insulting to His Majesty and it was therefore directed that all Acts thus passed should be erased from the records of the Island and the Jurats were directed to see that the Order of 22 May was duly carried out, otherwise they would render themselves liable to severe penalties.

On 10 September 1730 the Lieut-Governor presented to the States a letter he had received from Lieut-Bailiff Philip Le Geyt, written at Elizabeth Castle two days previously.

In this letter Le Geyt states that having escaped so mercifully from the hands of those who would have put him to death in the most cruel fashion and, as he cannot live any longer in safety in the Island, he asks the States to take such measures to fill his place as will be most beneficial for His Majesty's Service and he tells them that the Seal of the Island is in charge of his son and the Mace at his house.

The States, in a dilemma, looked round for a suitable culprit and they therefore reported that Lieut-Govemor Howard had not given them the assistance they needed in carrying out the Orders of the Council. There is no doubt but that these Officers sent to represent the Governors of the Island did not always see eye to eye with those who had to make and carry out the laws. In fact, they often took the side of the people and considered that many of the laws were beneficial to the better classes and oppressive to the under dogs.

Corn shortage

Howard had succeeded Kempenfelt as Lieut-Governor by a Commission dated 29 September 1727 and, from the beginning of his term of office found great opposition from the States. The condition of the poor people was anything but satisfactory, and in a report to be found in the Le Hardy papers which he sent to the Lords of the Council, he pointed out that he had called a meeting of the States for 20 September 1729 to consider the condition of affairs in the Island - especially pointing out that corn could not be purchased in the open market from December to the August following owing to the speculation of those in authority "and ye poor people of the Island has suffered very greatly thereby and are subjected yearly to the same distress that even ye people of ye Island as well as ye soldiers in garrison have been reduced to ye last degree from want of bread".

When the meeting assembled, the Lieut-Bailiff, acting for Lord Granville, Bailiff, disputed the Lieut-Governor's right to call a meeting on the grounds that "he was His Majesty's Representative and with an arrogant manner and with insulting language and gestures insisted that it was his right to do so".

"I answered him that I had ye honour to have His Majesty's Commission to be Lieut-Governor and His Majesty's command therein is that I am to be obeyed as such by all ye people of the Island and consequently that I presided in that Assembly but not to raise disturbances but to go on with ye business before us, but that I would acquaint His Majesty with his behaviour and be determined as shall be His Majesty's pleasure".

Lord Granville was a very powerful nobleman and evidently supported his deputy - especially where the relative importance of office was in question and therefore later on they were glad to find any excuse to get him removed from office. Howard had failed to use the military force under his command, and, on 1 September 1730 considered that he had done his duty when he advised the Constables and Centeniers of the several parishes to "use the authority of your office in order to put a stop to the present violence and to prevent the like for the future". Therefore an Order in Council dated 5 October 1730 directed Colonel Howard to repair to London to answer the complaint that he had "neglected to support and assist the said Magistrates in the putting of our Order in execution and in suffering of the said riots" and Colonel William Hargrave was appointed to succeed him.

Jurats dismissed

The Lieut-Governor having been removed and Lieut-Bailiff Le Geyt having returned to the Island, on 14 November 1730 attention was called to the action of the seven Jurats who had passed the cancelled Acts at the suggestion of the rioters, and they were by Order of the Privy Council deprived of office.

Their names were Michael Lempriere, Philip Patriarche, Matthew Le Geyt, Abraham Richardson, John Le Hardy, John de Carteret, and John du Maresq.

Unfortunately the States could not carry on as there were no longer sufficient Jurats, and Le Hardy and de Carteret were told that they could continue in office. But Le Hardy and de Carteret were not willing to act without their colleagues who had been deposed and, when the matter was submitted to the Privy Council, their Lordships, by their Order of 9 July 1735, directed the election of three new Jurats so that the States could have the requisite number.

Great excitement prevailed throughout the Island and many a bitter family feud started as relations took different sides and the old rate of Exchange, notwithstanding the Orders of the Privy Council, continued in force, the livre being valued at 20 sous, the sou at four liards instead of six, and the liard at three deniers.

The voice of the people resulted in the election of sons of the deposed Jurats to take the places thus vacant. Passions had been aroused, high words had been spoken, and violent actions taken and Jerseymen were determined, irrespective of consequences, to safeguard the interests of the people as a whole and not to further the interests of the more privileged classes.

Jacques Hemery

It was about this time that the name of Hemery became known, for on 10 November 1736, a young Frenchman, of good character and manners, who had been apprenticed to a local merchant, applied to the Court for letters of naturalisation, and the Court having granted the request, Jacques Hemery legally became a Jersey citizen.

There was a great scarcity of grain in the Island and the poor people could not afford to buy, and in consequence suffered great hardships, therefore when the sloop Mermaid, Captain Lawrence, arrived from Southampton on its way to France with a cargo of grain, the States, by their Order of 6 July 1725, directed that the cargo should be bought and the grain sold at reasonable prices in small parcels to the poor people who were starving.

Jean Cavalier

There were few records of the States from September 1730 to July 1733. Probably there were disagreements between the Lieut-Governors and the Members of the States. The Lieut-Governors had always the case of Colonel Howard before them, but the States found that when Brigadier General Jean Cavalier was appointed in 1738, he was a man of action and on 19 January 1739 he wrote a letter to the States "that owing to the confusion which existed at States Meetings and the conduct of the Procurer of the King that, until he received further orders from the Privy Council, he would not hold another meeting of the States."

Cavalier died whilst Lieut-Governor of Jersey on 17 May 1740, at Chelsea, and was buried in St Luke's Churchyard, Chelsea. He had left Jersey the previous March and had been appointed Governor of the Isle of Wight, but had died before taking up the appointment. This famous leader of the Protestant Rebellion in the Cevennes - a shepherd's boy and baker's assistant - had, before he reached the age of 22, managed to defy the armies of France although he was supported by barely 3,000 followers, and it was only after the arrival of Marshal Villars with 60,000 troops and the offer of favourable terms that Cavalier gave up the struggle, contrary to the wishes of some of the diehards of the Camisard party.

He eventually drifted into the service of Queen Anne and it was probable that, owing to the influx of large numbers of Protestant Refugees to the Island, he was considered as a suitable Lieut-Governor.

Messervy's appointment

It was during such troublous times that Daniel spent his early days and he must have heard a good deal of what was going on in the Island as his mother was a daughter of Josue Pipon of La Moye, who was the Lieut-Bailiff of the Island 1715-1728. At 27 years of age Messervy was appointed one of the Surveillants of St Helier and at the early age of 33 was elected a Jurat in the place of the Seigneur of Augres, When he was appointed a jure-justicier in 1754 the Rev Elie Dufresne, then Rector of Sark, wrote him a letter of congratulation, and in the last paragraph said:

"I am sure, Sir, that in spite of what the great Cowley told to one of his friends, you should be able to make French, English, Latin and even Greek verses if you had undertaken it."

He was evidently occupying a good position in the Island and was better educated than many of his fellows, for in 1742 he had his portrait painted by Mr Erco Jacobsen and he wrote later on to his artist friend

"If my picture is not done as I told you, do it according to your own genius, but don't put any glittering false hounds about it, but have it done prettily and don't spare cost without too much extravagence."

He was married on 7 June 1742 when he was twenty-one years of age and in writing to a friend he says:"The Ancient Romans when they married used to give a ring to their best friend as an unparallelled token of their friendship". and he hoped his friend would accept the one sent.

He was interested in the trade of the Island, had his shares in privateers and wondered what his profit would be after each venture; sent stockings away from the Island and expressed disappointment when they sold for 3s a pair instead of the 4s he expected. He also ventured in the Newfoundland trade and advised his son Daniel to sell the craft he had sent out and buy one on the land as it might be cheaper and, in his correspondences, we find him advising his son about the markets in the Mediterranean and in Spain.

Evidently a man with a keen sense of business and very careful to look after his own interests. He had a long and bitter dispute with a Mrs Melvil over property left by his father-in-law and we find him writing to Charles Lempriere complaining of the wicked things this woman was spreading about him. The case eventually came before the Royal Court and he won his case but Mrs Melvil was a fighter and carried it to the Privy Council and their Lordships upset the Order of the Court and directed Messervy to pay, for those days, a large sum of money.


His friendship with the Lemprieres was sufficient for him to apply to Philip, the Attorney-General, for the post of Commissioner to condemn prizes and his correspondence shows that there were very friendly relations between the two families. He is also very friendly with his relations the Pipons of La Moye, and on 15 October 1743 Joshua Pipon, then a volunteer on one of His Majesty's ships, writes that he has arrived at the Nore after a very tedious passage of 14 days from Guernsey and asks if Messervy could send him a little money, about 30s, as he wants to buy a few things.

He mentions that Captain Carteret is then at the Nore with his ship HMS Dolphin. Unfortunately Pipon did not remain long in the Navy, for on 9 March 1744 Mr Venner of HMS Eltham writes to Messervy that his cousin Joshua Pipon had been taken ill and had died in hospital - not the common hospital - and had been decently buried. His clothes were sold and fetched £ 10, and among the purchasers at the sale we find the names of Charles Amy, who bought two cotton shirts and one handkerchief for 7s; David Aubin, one red waistcoat and shirt for 14s; and Matthew Le Geyt a laced silk waistcoat for 15s.

He keeps up correspondence with his schoolfellows and in 1748, when writing to congratulate one who had married the second time, and, about the same time been elected a Member of Parliament, Messervy took the opportunity to congratulate him on both events. In Parliament he hopes that he will remain as long as he lived, and that he may be "blessed with a happy offspring to fill the place you have now, after you have gone to the region of the blessed."

He refers to the loyalty of the Islanders when, on 7 July I75I, they placed a Statue of His Majesty George II in the Market place just facing the Royal Court.

Period of unrest

But unfortunately the state of the Island was anything but peaceful. The tumults earlier in the century had left considerable unrest in the Island and at this period of history the question of self interest in all parts of the world dominated the actions of our legislators.

Bribery and corruption were rampant, and justice depended considerably on the power which supported any claims. In Jersey lawyers were afraid to take up cases which were unpopular at headquarters and therefore appeals to the Court were avoided as much as possible. Messervy himself was rather above the average intelligence of his fellows and in studying his diary we have to realise that he was able to see both sides of the question with considerable leaning towards those in power.

He suffered very bad health and we frequently hear that he has been in Bath to take the waters, once crossing over to England in a lobster boat - an adventure in those days when neighbouring waters were infested by French and other privateers and convoys were not always available.

When Daniel was in London in 1759 his friend Mr d'Auvergne writes to him "that it will be in my power to get you, your lady, and Miss to see His Majesty robed for the opening of Parliament and afterwards to have his company to dinner".

Therefore we can imagine that Messervy was above the average Jerseymen of those days and was interested in matters of general interest.

Friends in high places

His friend Charles Lempriere had been appointed Lieut-Bailiff of the Island and, when Avocat du Roy or Solicitor-General, had appealed to the Privy Council against a decision of the Royal Court of 20 February 1741 concerning a prosecution in which the King's interests were concerned and the Privy Council had decided that the Procureur du Roy or Attorney General was the Superior Officer and proper person to carryon all suits relating to the King's Revenue and that the Avocat du Roi could not interfere except during a vacancy or when the Procureur du Roi is absent from the Island.

His brother Philip who had been brought up as a sailor had become Attorney-General and the post of Solicitor-General was left vacant for some time. His father was the senior Jurat, his brothers-in-law Thomas Pipon and Edward Ricard were Jurats as were also his father-in-law Charles Hilgrove and his cousin John Le Hardy.

There had been considerable difficulty in collecting the King's Revenues, which were always paid in corn, and many disputes arose as to the amounts due from the several parishes. It was therefore arranged for the Governor to receive a fixed sum and that the King's rentes be farmed. Jurat Ricard, who had been a Jurat since 1762 and was a brother-in-law of the Lemprieres, was appointed to the Office.

An Act was passed that no men were allowed to administer an oath except in the presence of the Lieut-Bailiff and two Jurats and in cases before the Court the Attorney-General prosecuted and suggested the amount of the fines, which as part of the King's Revenue, were paid to the Farmer. All the principal offices of State were held by the Lemprieres, such as Storekeeper, Barrack Master, Paymaster, Agent for Prisoners of War and therefore the family and their relations had control of all matters in the State.

Corn shortage

There was hardly sufficient corn grown in the Island to meet the requirements of much more than six to nine months and the King's Farmer collected the corn and, finding a good market on the Continent, was about to export some when matters reached a climax and the people began to realise that their officials were quite willing to see them starve in order that they could get a good price for the corn outside the Island. Farmers, anxious to make the best of their produce, refused to sell the smallest quantity of corn in the public Market as they could obtain a better price without much trouble by selling what quantities they had to the bakers, who charged what they liked for their bread.

This was quite contrary to the Act of the States of 11 November 1709 when it was forbidden to export any sort of bread, grain, or vegetable and bakers were forbidden to buy their grain at any other places than in the Public Market.

To avoid this difficulty the States, on 29 August 1697, passed an Act allowing the exportation of corn to France. The poor people were therefore threatened with starvation by those who should have looked after their interests, and passions were aroused and high words spoken as the people talked among themselves about their grievances and determined to use force if necessary to safeguard their rights.

When Colonel John Campbell was Lieut-Governor he had endeavoured to protect the rights of the people and had refused to grant a licence for the exportation of corn in 1768, and he is reported to have said that, before he allowed corn to be exported, he would fire on the ships carrying such cargo. But he resigned the appointment on 15 October 1768, and Colonel Thomas Ball was appointed in his place, and he was quite unfit to deal with the condition of affairs in the Island.

The Act of 20 August 1769 was therefore passed and a ship was loaded for France, but the women of the Island flocked to the harbour and, protected by their men who stood by armed with sticks, they unloaded the vessel and distributed the cargo among the starving people.

Bad health

During the years 1768-1769, Daniel Messervy was in very bad health suffering from nervous convulsions which kept him in bed the whole of the winter of 1768, during which time he was frequently blooded by Dr Ferguson and several times blistered. Evidently the doctor found that his treatment was not doing his patient any good, and he therefore advised him to go to Dinard to take the waters. After a stay of a few weeks there was so much improvement in his condition that he expressed the hope that he would soon be able to resume his duties as Jurat, especially as there appeared to be a lull in the affairs of the Island.

Unfortunately the lull was delusive for on 28 September 1769 the mob attacked those attending the Cour d'Heritage. Messervy had been warned by a friend not to attend the meeting, and found his health a suitable excuse for not going. The mob broke into the Court House and armed with sticks they threatened the Jurats and compelled them to pass Acts for the relief of the people by reducing the price of corn, the farming of the Crown rents and one important grievance which occupied the minds of the property owners at the time: "The Seigneurs were no longer to enjoy for a year and a day the property of persons dying without heirs of their bodies."

Dr Shebbeare

This had been introduced into the Laws of the Island without attracting much notice before it was put into force. The Lieut-Bailiff and his friends fled to Elizabeth Castle and from there a deputation was sent to the Privy Council and their Lordships declared that all the Acts passed, owing to fear of the rioters, should be erased from the records of the Island. Colonel Bentinck was sent to the Island with four Companies of Foot and on 7 July 1770 was sworn in as Lieut-Governor, pro tem, and, notwithstanding the criticism of Dr Shebbeare in his History of Jersey, he appears to have carried out the duties of his office very well.

Shebbeare was a political writer, a very gifted penman, who was willing to sell his talent for a price. We find him in the stocks for his abuse of the Hanoverian Dynasty and later on receiving a pension from a Hanoverian Government of £200 per annum. He was exceedingly bitter against the Jurats of Jersey, even including our friend Daniel, and put their actions in the most infamous light. He was only in Jersey for about three weeks whilst on a visit to his son-in-law Captain Le Geyt. He describes Bentinck as a foreigner, fond of flattery and one who was always ready to seek protection by having to attend to the bedside of a sick aunt or cousin whenever he was faced by any special difficulty.

Low standards

There is no doubt that our legislators at that time were not of the highest standard, but we must remember that the standard in England and elsewhere was no higher. People bought their seats in Parliament and used their influence often in furthering their own interests and those of their friends. Young boys of ten could purchase the command of a Regiment provided they had sufficient influence and money, and all posts in Government services were by nomination.

The Church was no better. Self interest was the ruling passion and the underdog could take care of himself. Therefore we must judge the standard of Jersey with the standard of elsewhere. The records show that the Lempriere family were the masters of the situation, just as Sir Philip de Carteret and his friends had been prior to the Great Rebellion, and most certainly they did not neglect to use their power in safeguarding their own interests. At first Bentinck was fully impressed by their story and was ready to punish the many acts of the rioters, but as he went from one person to another he gradually formed the opinion that the Islanders were suffering under genuine grievances.

When we study Messervy's diary we realise that the diarist was fully aware of what was going on in the Island. Although ill health prevented his attending to the duties of a Jurat, he frequently attended dinner parties and had many visitors at Mont-au-Pretre. He lived at a place called Linden Hall and was related to many of the people of the Island.

Bentinck's visits

His mother had been a Pipon and Colonel Bentinck frequently paid him visits to discuss the affairs of the Island. It must have been a very anxious time and, when he heard the noisy crowd passing his house tramping into the town, he was well content to satisfy the cravings of those who asked for cider to quench their thirst. The mob, after threatening the Jurats, compelled them to pass Plusieurs Choses de reasonables which were posted up in the various parishes, with the exception of that of St Brelade, the inhabitants of that parish refusing as they stated they had always been loyal to the Crown.

The Government of the day was determined to uphold the authority of the Crown and therefore troops were landed at Bouley Bay from HMS Baston and, Colonel Bentinck riding at their head, with flags flying and band playing, they marched into town, and, much to their surprise, were welcomed by the people. More troops were landed later on at St Aubin.

When the Lieut-Bailiff and others fled to Elizabeth Castle, Messervy, notwithstanding his bad health, paid him a visit to offer his services, and later on we hear of his sending his daughter Janeton to attend service at the Town Church and to ascertain as far as possible what was going on in the Island.

Messervy always kept friendly with his old acquaintances, notwithstanding their differences of opinion, but when Jurat Philip de Carteret paid him a visit and questioned Messervy about the King's rents and about affairs in general, the latter was very cautious in his replies for il est a la tete du party des Carterets ou soit-disantes Populaires ou malcontents, parcequ'ils voudraient jouir des mesme charges et offices que les autres.

The Government immediately offered a reward of £100 to anyone who could give information about the leaders of the riots and Messervy, learning from his servant that her brother was well informed on the subject, he sent for him and advised him to go to the Lieut-Bailiff and tell him all he knew. At a meeting of the Court of 25 January 1770 orders were given for the arrest of Amice Durell, Thomas Jacques Gruchy, Jean Coutanche, Philip Luce, Philip Alexandre and others and they were subsequently made prisoners and examined.

But in the meantime they were not without friends. Bentinck was moving about from one place to another talking to people of all sides of opinion and had his own ideas on Jersey affairs - not altogether favourable to those in power. Petitions were being signed by the people from the various parishes and the Constable of St Helier, Jean Durell, who had openly opposed many of the actions of the States, was supporting the necessity of public enquiry.

Petition to King

Colonel Campbell and Captain Fiott in London were helping to bring the discontent of the people to the proper quarters and Major Moses Corbet was appointed to take the petition to London to present it to his Majesty. This Petition "Griefs de l'Ile de Jersey dans une Requeste Presentee a Sa Majeste par Moses Corbet, Ecuyer", was published in London in 1770.

Constable Jean Durell presented the petition to the Lieut-Bailiff, but he refused to receive it and so Durell handed it to Colonel Bentinck. On 25 May 1770 Messervy went to dine with the Lieut-Bailiff at Rozel, where he was building a new Manor House on Mont Marquerite behind the chapel and adjoining the colombier, when they discussed the state of affairs in the Island to their satisfaction, but things were moving very rapidly.

The petition, having being presented by Moses Corbet, Colonel Bentinck was recalled to London and saw the King who had directed him to return to Jersey and try to "pacify the quarrels". He returned to Jersey and, calling a meeting of the States, he made a long speech and suggested that, as a personal favour, all those connected with the recent revolt should be pardoned. Moses Corbet was appointed Receiver in the place of Ricard at £140 per annum, and Acts of the States were passed forbidding the exportation of corn, fixing the price of corn, and the price of bread to be charged by the bakers.

In the meantime Colonel Bentinck held a review on Mont es Pendue, when the soldiers attacked a tent pitched on the top of the hill as an imaginary town and fired many guns and then many grenadoes, but unfortunately the proceedings were somewhat marred by the visitors coming too near and especially the ladies who were out to see the fun, dressed in their best for the occasion. Miss Corbet's dress was burnt in the attack and she was wounded in the leg and Mrs Major Hogge and Miss Betty Le Maistre and others received injuries. Otherwise the attack was completely successful.

During Colonel Bentinck's stay in the Island he tried to make himself very popular and gave balls and held reviews in various parts of the Island. He called upon and supped or dined with many of the principal inhabitants of the Island irrespective of their politics, and was frequently at Rozel, and, when the Code of 1771 was compiled he placed it in the hands of Advocate Pipon, a nephew of the Lieut-Bailiff - not altogether to the satisfaction of those who had been criticising the conduct of affairs in the past.

The Colonel was only in the Island a few months and was doing his best to carry out his orders to smooth matters. Besides it would have been impossible for him during so short a time to understand the peculiarities of our many - and often oppressive laws.


Among the documents dealing with the Island there is a pamphlet called Anecdotes relative to the Island of Jersey 1767, printed by J Linden at Southampton in 1773. This pamphlet has generally been ascribed to Colonel Bentinck, but, after a very careful study of the conduct of that officer during his stay in Jersey, I am inclined to suggest that the author was Colonel John Campbell, the Lieut-Governor who had taken such strong action in the States against the proposed exportation of corn and who was known to be actively assisting in forwarding the petitions from the inhabitants in connection with their grievances. Besides, in 1767 it is doubtful whether Bentinck had ever heard of the Island of Jersey.

On 22 July 1770 Colonel Bentinck and Major Corbet came to see Messervy to ask his advice about the retirements of Jurats Lempriere and Hilgrove on account of age, and Messervy took the opportunity of asking that, owing to illness, his name might be included as he felt he could no longer perform the necessary duties of his office. Later on the request was granted.

On 10 August 1770 the Lieut-Bailiff called to see Daniel and in the course of conversation they agreed that if they did not punish the rioters it would be an encouragement later on for those whose opinions differed from those in authority. But the Order in Council had already pardoned them. Bentinck realised the difficulty of understanding the Laws of the Island and therefore the Code of 1771 was introduced. He had now completed his work in the Island and on 17 April 1771 left the Island to visit his parents in Holland. But before he departed, on 4 April 1771, Major Moses Corbet had been appointed Lieut-Governor, Thomas Pipon, Procureur du Roi, Jean Thomas Durell, Avocat du Roi, and Captain Falle and Jacques Pipon joint Receivers General.

Revolt ends

And thus ended the great revolt of 1769 and the Islanders settled down to the milder squabbles of the Magots and Charlots and Messervy winds up his journal by saying that on 8 July 1772 the Lieut-Bailiff had called to see him and discuss matters and, in talking about Shebbeare's History of Jersey, said that he treated the writings of Shebbeare with contempt and that in his book he had gifted him with many powers which he had not heard of.

So the two comrades were satisfied, although Shebbeare publicly stated that when the Lieut-Bailiff had tried to suppress the publication of his history by using his influence at headquarters he was told that the proper course for him to take was to bring an action in the Law Courts.

Messervy died on 5 March 1775 and was buried in the Church of St Helier. We have in the Museum a silver cup which was presented to his son Francis, who had been a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and had retired with the rank of Commander. On the cup it is stated that it was presented to Captain Francis Messervy, RN for his bravery during a storm whilst in command of HMS Niobe off Boulogne. The Admiralty have, however, no record of this vessel and presume that possibly it might have been a Revenue cutter or most probably a passenger and mail boat.

We have also the sketch book of his grandson Midshipman Messervy, who died at the age of 18 when off Jamaica in 1894. This sketch book was found among the papers of our late respected President Mr G T Messervy in an envelope addressed to me and I have thought that his intention was to have it placed in the hands of the Society.

Further article

Personal tools
other Channel Islands
contact and contributions

Please support Jerripedia with a donation to our hosting costs